Eating the Grass by the Root

And other great euphemisms for death.

Click here * to play or download Slate’s latest euphemisms audio contest, featuring language columnist Barbara Wallraff.

A euphemism makes something unpleasant sound a little less so. And since death is high on most people’s unpleasantness list, it’s no surprise that it has generated more than a few choice metaphors over the years. In response to our latest euphemism challenge, many of you summoned your inner undertaker and responded with some great alternative ways of saying “kick the bucket.” As usual, we’ve compiled our favorites into an audio program featuring contest curator Barbara Wallraff.


You don’t need an iPod or other portable audio device to hear the program—you can play it right from your computer by clicking here. *

The show also contains our latest challenge, appropriate for this election season. Barbara is looking for the best political euphemism—especially in the names of legislation (“Clear Skies Initiative” anyone?) or those groups that fund candidates and ballot measures (for example, a Michigan pro-dove-hunting group called “Citizens for Wildlife Conservation”).


As always, we strongly recommend that you listen to the program before entering the contest. Here are the entry details:

The deadline: Oct. 31, 2006
The e-mail address: podcast@wordcourt.com
The prize:
None (sorry). But winners will be noted on Barbara’s Web site, www.wordcourt.com, and she may include worthy entries in a future book (not unlike her most recent book, Word Fugitives).

(By entering this contest, you grant Slate permission to use your name unless you expressly request otherwise.)

For comments, not contest entries, write us at podcasts@slate.com.

* If clicking on the link doesn’t start the audio playing on your system, or if you prefer to download it, try right-clicking (Windows) or holding down the Control key while you click (Mac), and then “save” or “download” the audio file to your hard drive.